Category Archives: Television

THE TELLYBOX: It’s Reality, but not as we know it!

The Apprentice - Sir Alan Sugar

As Big Brother launches yet again on British TV, with another group of talentless wannabees (yawn), and I’d Do Anything has found “the people’s Nancy” (yay! for the wonderful Jodie Prenger!), we only have The Apprentice in the frame as worth watching for a fascinating slice of reality TV life.

The Apprentice sees 16 would-be tycoons vying for a coveted training place in Sir Alan Sugar’s empire, with a magnificent six-figure salary as the prize.

Last week Sir Alan (pictured with his two sidekicks, Margaret and Nick), couldn’t decide which two of the last four to put through to next week’s final, so he wimped out and let all four go through. Well, it was presented as wimping out, but Sir Alan doesn’t really do that, does he? No, this was purely for telly-generated drama purposes, just as when, a few weeks ago, he summarily fired two rather than the usual one candidate, to spice things up.

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DVD REVIEW: The Dead Zone: The Final Season – Still Intelligent After all These Years! by Sheldon Wiebe

The Dead Zone has been one of the most consistently intelligently written fantasy/science fiction series on television during its run. The story of John Smith [Anthony Michael Hall], who came out of a six-year coma with heightened psychic abilities, has mixed mythology eps dealing with Smith’s efforts to prevent Armageddon with standalone eps that dealt with his using his ability to save lives, reunite loved ones and other smaller arcs that were treated as no less important.

The final season of the series was moved to Montreal, bringing in a wealth of new guest-stars [like ReGenesis’ Maxim Roy and Brothers’ & Sisters’ Tom Skerritt – along with returnees like Jennifer Finnegan, as Smith’s equally psychic friend, Alex Sinclair. Two deaths in the premiere set in motion arcs that find Smith and Sarah Bannerman [Nicole De Boer] and now Vice-President Greg Stilson [Sean Patrick Flanery] in oddly affecting relationships, while J.J. [now portrayed by Connor Price] deals with tragedy, discovers girls and learns that the VP cheats at cards. Finally, everything comes to a truly unexpected head in the finale, Denouement.

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Overall, the final season of The Dead Zone is a delight. It echoes the show’s first season in many ways – including a second coma for Smith! The writing is consistently above average and there are yet new ways shown for Smith to have visions – some quite staggering in their intensity and length. I didn’t find any of the eps to be below average, which is unusual, and many were excellent – especially the premiere, Heritage, and the finale, Denouement. While the entire cast is excellent, Connor Price deserves kudos for coming into the series for its last season and seeming like he’d always been there.

Features: Audio Commentaries for Heritage – by Executive Producers Lloyd Segan and Scott Shepherd, Connor Price [J.J.] and John L. Adams [Bruce]; Re-Entry – by Executive Producer/Series Co-Creator Shawn Piller and Writers Sam Ernst and Jim Dunn; Numb – by Executive Producer/Series co-Creator Shawn Piller and Writer Dana Greenblatt, and Denouement – by Executive Producers Lloyd Segan, Scott Shepherd and Shawn Piller, and Connor Price [J.J.]; A New Home For The Dead Zone – a Featurette detailing how the series was moved to Montreal, and All Aboard: Filming The Dead Zone on a Train – behind the scenes on the episode Switch.

Grade: The Dead Zone: The Final Season – A-

Grade: Features: A

Final Grade: A-

GAMING NEWS: Universal Unveils Mobile Battlestar Galactica Game! by Sheldon Wiebe

Universal Pictures digital Platforms Group announcing their introduction of a Mobile Battlestar Galactica Game that they developed in partnership with Glu Mobile. The game is set aboard “the legendary BSG-75” where the player is in a “top down shooter position” for an adventure that “stretches from one end of the galaxy to the other.”

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How to Play “Battlestar Galactica”
Battlestar Galactica is a top-down shooter game that stations the player aboard the legendary BSG-75.  Players have a chance to pilot three types of Vipers or Raptors while defending the Fleet against relentless Cylon attacks. Players begin the game as “rookies” and progress in rank as they play. With each promotion, players unlock new features within the game.

There are 24 possible missions and additional training missions, as well as bonus stages and intense boss battles.  “Battlestar Galactica” also allows for multiple-stackable ship upgrades and Wingman powerups.

“On television, ‘Battlestar Galactica’ is incredibly visual and full of action and we wanted to deliver that same exhilarating experience to the mobile phone gamer,” says Jeremy Laws, Senior Vice-President, Mobile & Broadband, Universal Pictures Digital Platforms Group.

“Battlestar Galactica” is now available on most major wireless carriers in North America and will be available worldwide shortly.

INTERVIEW: The great Ridley Scott Speaks with Eclipse by Scott Essman

Our resident Studio Plant (who hates it when I call him that), has landed a plum interview for us at Eclipse. He sits down with the great Ridley Scott. I had a chance to watch him direct a scene for the Television show Numbers last year and it was pretty surreal watching him work. He’s the Executive Producer of the The Andromeda Strain. You can read Scott’s fabulous interview after the break. 

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INTERVIEW: Roy Thinnes, TV’s David Vincent, Talks The Invaders by Sheldon Wiebe

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When The Invaders premiered as a mid-season replacement on January 10, 1967, science fiction on television was a pretty grim genre. The heyday of Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits was past and – other than Star Trek – the best the genre had to offer was campy series that played fast and loose with the science because it was “science fiction and you could do what you wanted” [generic quote from producers of every bad television science fiction series ever made]. Like Star Trek’s Gene Roddenberry, the creator of The Invaders wanted to avoid that kind of silliness – as did the show’s producer, the legendary Quinn Martin [The Fugitive]. It was their straightforward, no-nonsense, dramatic approach that convinced Roy Thinnes to take on the role of David Vincent, the architect who saw an alien ship land way too early one morning. Mr. Vincent was kind enough to chat with me about the series and its effect on his life.

Continue reading INTERVIEW: Roy Thinnes, TV’s David Vincent, Talks The Invaders by Sheldon Wiebe

INTERVIEW: All About Eve, a talk with Torchwood star, Eve Myles

                                Eve Myles

 

“It’s always emotional to say goodbye to people.”

Most of the time, Eve Myles, Torchwood‘s no-nonsense Gwen Cooper, bounds around like an over-excited puppy. On stage at the Rift Convention, she overcomes her apprehension at facing her first convention appearance by regaling fans with tales from the set of Torchwood that quickly have the audience in the palm of her hand. But, as she tells Carole Gordon in a quiet moment later in the day, filming Torchwood was not all fun and games. Losing two of the characters from the show at the end of the second series, people who had over the course of filming become and remain her good friends, was a deeply emotional experience – and one that will continue to affect both her and Gwen.

Continue reading INTERVIEW: All About Eve, a talk with Torchwood star, Eve Myles

Television Review: The Andromeda Strain, Sheldon Says Don’t Strain Yourselves For This Weak Remake!

Robert Wise’s The Andromeda Strain was the first adaptation of a Michael Crichton bestseller to film. That was in 1971, and the 2001-like elegance of its design, and the computer-like efficiency of the members of the Wildfire team, gave us an entertainment was scary on so many levels that it was almost an improvement on the novel. The same can’t be said for the A&E mini-series which airs tonight and tomorrow at 9/8C.

When a satellite crashes to Earth, a couple of kids find and haul it into town, where a well-meaning firefighter cracks it open. A very short time later, the town is found to be dead – bodies lying everywhere – except for one person, who’s to blitzed to be much help. So, the Wildfire Team is called into action – and set up with the satellite and its contents in a lab five miles blow the surface.

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The team includes Dr. Jeremy Stone [Benjamin Bratt], Dr. Charlene Barton [Viola Davis], Dr. Tsi Chou [Daniel Dae Kim], Dr. Angela Noyce [Christa Miller] and Major Bill Keane MD [Ricky Schroeder]. Other major players include General George Mancheck [Andre Braugher], reporter Jack Nash [Eric McCormack], U.S. President Scott [Ted Whittall]. The plot remains the same – the Wildfire Team is to figure out what caused all those deaths before the thing mutates too far and breaks out. They are hampered by communications problems [deliberately imposed by Mancheck]; not having a lot of time, and by racial problems between two team members, among other things.

The movie was 130 minutes long. The mini-series goes for 180-plus. The difference? Lotsa cool new tech toys to play with – lotsa pretty flashing lights and a much younger and prettier cast. Also, a much less imaginative script, plodding direction and less than excellent acting. To put it plainly, the A&E Andromeda Strain mini-series looks good – and that’s all it does well. None of the cast distinguishes themselves and some [Bratt and Braugher in particular] are painful to watch.

Here’s a better idea: tonight rent the movie, and tomorrow night rent The Terminal Man. Both are based on Crichton’s novels, and both are vastly superior to this particular waste of time.

Final Grade: D

The Tellybox: Once again into the weird world of Eurovision

                       andy_abraham-gal

 

It’s May Bank Holiday, time for pootling off to Brighton, huddling under umbrellas while picnicking in the park and, of course, watching our Eurovision entry get trashed with the obligatory “nul points” from those countries which don’t like us.  Which seems to be pretty much everybody right now.

I can’t pinpoint the year when the Eurovision Song Contest, the annual cheesefest involving the best and worst of songs from the nations that make up a very generous interpretation of the geographical extent of “Europe”, changed from being about the music to being a chance to thank your friends and bash your enemies.   Greece always gives its 12 points to Cyprus and vice versa.    Germany always votes for Turkey.    Maybe it’s always been about alliances, demographics and political manoeuvering.   Or maybe we just like indulging in sour grapes because we haven’t won since Katrina and the Waves shone her light on the event in 1997.

Continue reading The Tellybox: Once again into the weird world of Eurovision

Television: American Idol – Is it over yet?

Ok, I know, a few weeks ago I gave up on this show and these fun little recaps . But I’m a masochist. I have to watch the showdown of the no-talent Davids, I’ve come around on David Cook. But he comes across as a pompous ass, and I strongly dislike David A. It’s like a fight between Aliens and Predators, no matter who wins – we lose. But at least it’s not a 2 hr extravaganza! So I’ll give this about 20 minutes to hook me, otherwise I’m just going to watch the Blu-ray version of Unbreakable that’s sitting in my PS3. Who is up first – I’m guessing it’s David. Ha. Man, can this show get any worse or cheesier? This opening is making me want to turn this crap off right now. Thank god for Tivo! I wonder if the thought of watching this is what sent my man Kennedy (my favorite Senator) over the edge today? Another thing about Kennedy – he’s NOT FREAKING DEAD YET! Stop reporting like he is!

This season has been so pre-planned and packaged that it’s clear the judges will faun all over David A and stick the knife in David C.’s back, twist it and then watch as his blood opens up the LA hell mouth. David Cook is doing the easiest Karaoke song possible – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, hell, I get applause when I do this song at Karaoke bars, and I can’t sing worth a damn. And Cook is HORRIBLE. He’s out of key and his voice sounds as bad as mine (I lost it during Sunday’s Indy screening). I’m fast forwarding to the comments. He’s terrible. So the Judges pre-canned comments should be right on.

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After all these weeks I’ve finally stumbled onto the secret of Idol success. You can suck as much as you want to, forget the lyrics to songs, as long as you close your 90 second tune out with a screechy, long, high scream. That wakes the judges up. Randy loved this crap, who cares what Paula says, Simon loved it. David A is doing another one of my favorite songs – Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me. Again he just bugs me. Technically it’s alright, but it’s just “rote,” and he has no passion. Randy loved it and boo hoo, David’s crying. I’m so sick of Simon and his “Round 1 goes to…” crap. How about letting the Audience decide you putz. But he is right. David A was clearly better – even though I forwarded 30 seconds in.

It’s time for Round 2 First it’s Cook’s ditty, didn’t catch the name. Rick Springfield songs were on my Shuffle today (like 5 times!) and the song Cook is singing sounds exactly like a Springfield tune. I think it’s called “Don’t Have Faith.” Would it kill Idol to put the title and artist of the songs these people are butchering on the screen?? It’s interesting seeing a Rocker in an Idol final. They’ve come close in the last few years, but they never made it to the final 2. Didn’t understand Randy’s comments. Simon hated it. I guarantee he’ll love whatever David A does. David A is doing a song called “In This Moment.” It’s boring and I’m going to skip to the fawning. “Ooh David, you’re Hot Man on fire,” “What talent, I just want to snuggle with you,” “Round 2 goes to David.” This is the first time I’ve actually seen David sing with some emotion and, um, well, it’s like, um…Good. Much better than Cook’s track. Judges do fawn, Simon does do his “round 2 bit.” God I hate his aw-shucks, I’m good, let’s cry. It’s irritating. God, I just intensely HATE this kid. A commercial for Narnia is on, and I really want to see that again.

I’m tired of this crappy Rocky theme. It’s time for the last song. David Cook is singing something called The World I know by Collective Soul. Weird choice, not sure if this is original or not. It’s too mellow and not the type of song you want to end a singing competition with. He’s not Prince in Purple Rain and David A isn’t Morris, “Damn he won this competition with a Ballad!” Cook looks like he’s resigned to the idea that he’s going to lose. I hate Paula and her damn standing ovations. Simon agrees with me and thought it was completely wrong choice and he made a retarded suggestion that Cook should have done Billy Jean again. If Cook did that the judges would have skewered him and put his head on a spick. While Simon’s comments are almost always right on point, the motivation behind them totally invalidates anything he says this season.

Amazing, Archie IS repeating a performance and doing Imagine again and he’s awful AGAIN. It’s a boring train wreck. These two are the best American Idol has to offer us? Who cares what the judges say, you know they love them. The Archie thing wouldn’t be so bad if the judges let the audience decide for themselves. But they beat us over the head with the over the moon praise and it started way the hell back during the top 24. He’s an artificial creation who didn’t get to the finals honestly. The judges ignored all of his previous flubs, when they tore into other people for forgetting lyrics, when he had off nights it was always “it’s an off night baby, but you’re still HOT and will go far.” This putz had already won Star Search and other singing competitions. So spare me the fake crying and the Howdy Doody, Eddie Haskell attitude. He cried during ALL THREE Judges rounds. COME ON! I can understand one – maybe, but crying after all THREE performances! With all that said he was miles better than David Cook who phoned it in – which I can’t blame him, he knew the fix was in, so why bother trying?

The first time I ever saw it Taylor Hicks was auditioning and I loved that season, last year was pretty horrible. I have to admit I think this year some interesting talent but the Judges ruined the idea that this was a fair show. I promise you this, I’m done with Idol. I’m going to do Hell’s Kitchen. I like watching Gordon Ramsey go psycho. One of these days, he or one of the students is going to pick up one of those butcher Knives…..

American Idol Butcher Rock Hall of Fame Night

After two weeks of no Idol for me, I’m ready to attempt to give you another rambling report. What the heck? I stop watching for two weeks and my dark horse Brooke White gets booted and Paula let’s it known that, yes, America there is no Santa Claus. Idol is basically fixed. And like lemmings, America is voting almost exactly the way Simon wants them to. I’ve lost almost all interest in Idol. So this could be the last Idol report of this crappy season you’ll get from me. I know many of you are going, thank god! Next season, I think I’d rather give you updates on Hell’s Kitchen. That Gordon Ramsey makes me laugh. Anyway, back to Idol.

David Cook has been on fire lately, but his version of Duran Duran’s Hungry Like a Wolf is horrid.  Once again he gets the rock star lighting, but he’s awful tonight. There’s no emotion or connection to the song. For the first time in weeks, I’m going to fast forward to the end of this train wreck. Of course the judges will love it because it’s part of their pre-packaged scripts. Randy came with it and agrees with me thought it was just Ok. Of course Paula loved it. God this year the judges have the same speech week after week. Simon said it was good and David will be around until next week. More of Simon directing the results.

Syesha is going to do Proud Mary. She’s the one I’d like to see win this. I don’t think she’s particularly good, but it be nice to see the judges not get what they want. She’s got the right attitude for the song. But her arrangement is terrible. She’s more focused on trying to be sexy and like Tina than actually singing the song. It’s awful.  Skipping ahead. Randy liked it a lot. Who cares what Paula says. I’m not sure if I trust Simon’s opinion anymore. But he called it a bad impersonation of Tina Turner and he’s right. I just question his motives for his comments now.

Jason Castro is doing I Shot The Sheriff. Which is an obvious choice for him. His vocal is, as usual, bland and boring as hell. But he does have the it factor. Randy called it a Karoke Bob Marley. And didn’t like it at all. Paula actually didn’t like it. Simon called it utterly atrocious. Said it was like a first round massacre. Randy and Simon were actually angry about the performance.

God I just hate this David A kid, and he’s doing Stand By Me. Once again he’s technically ok, but he just lacks the “It” factor and his performances are devoid of emotion. He’s like a robot. Of course the judges will love it. Don’t even care what they say about him at this point. Does Archie’s dad have some blackmail material on these judges.

David Cook is going to do Baba O’Reilly (?) by The Who for his second number. Never heard of this. It’s good, I think David’s future is going the Lifehouse path of doing power ballads and staying away from “rocking out.” He’s terrible at it. But, hey, wait a second, I know this song. I always thought it was called Teenage Wasteland. Randy liked this one. Paula is humbled to “Watch his Soul.”

Syesha is going to do one of my favorite songs A Change is Going To Come. Her opening is awesome. She’s nailing this. Has the passion and emotion that this song requires. But Idol sucks because they take these classics and then boil them down to 90 seconds which doesn’t give you enough time. But Syesha killed this. What the hell is Randy smoking, he hated it. Simon loved it. And she’s balling like a baby.

Jason is going to try Mr. Tambourine Man for his 2nd selection. He’s awful. Randy looks angry. Simon told him to pack his suitcase. I’m tired of Simon trying to dictate how the audience votes. But even with his obvious shilling, Simon is correct. Jason was awful tonight and was totally exposed. I wish the audience would shock everyone and vote Archie off instead. Archie is now butchering Elvis. Again, technically ok, but totally lacks any kind of passion or any understanding what the song means. Don’t care what the judges say.

Is Idol even worth watching anymore? We all know that the top 10 will all get their paydays and album contracts. So once you get to the top 5 it doesn’t matter who wins anymore.  I’m done and don’t think there will be anymore Idol reports from me. The Summer film season is heating up and these final contestants are just boring as heck. Especially since we all know it’s a forgone conclusion that Archie is going to win this thing.

Battlestar Galactica: Escape Velocity – The Day After The Day After

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Escape Velocity opens with Chief Tyrol given a poignant eulogy at Cally’s funeral and ends with Gaius Baltar in a [for him] most unusual position. In between, this is one of Galactica’s most intense episodes – even though there are no great Cylon battles or even much action at all.

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